Mark Wilson of North Ranch Country Club named 2015 Southern California PGA Golf Professional of the Year
ONTARIO, CALIF. – Mark Wilson, PGA director of golf at North Ranch Country Club is your 2015 Southern California PGA Golf Professional of the Year.
Other 2015 Special Award winners include:
· Honorary Life Member – Jim Vernon, Past President, USGA
· Teacher of the Year – Brady Riggs, PGA of Woodley Lakes Golf Club
· Bill Strausbaugh Award – Robin Shelton, PGA of SeaCliff Country Club
· Horton Smith Award – Billy McKinney, PGA of Marbella Golf & Country Club
· Assistant Professional of the Year – Chris Eikenberg, PGA of Desert Horizons Country Club
· Player Development Award – Holly Kennedy, PGA of Kennedy Golf, LLC
· Youth Player Development Award – Randy Chang, PGA of Journey at Pechanga & Talega G.C.
· Clubfitter of the Year – Don Gatch, PGA of Emerald Isle Golf Course
· Merchandiser of the Year, Private – Mike Goodcase, PGA of Birman Wood Golf Club
· Merchandiser of the Year, Public – John Kulow, PGA of La Mirada Golf Course
· Merchandiser of the Year, Resort – Anthony Holder, PGA of Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort
· Player of the Year – Michael Block, PGA of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club
· AAA Player of the Year – Kenny Pigman, PGA of Goose Creek Golf Club
· Women’s Player of the Year – Julie Wells, PGA
· Women’s Apprentice Player of the Year – Jackie Kazarian of Monarch Beach Golf Links
· Senior Player of the Year – Chris Starkjohann, PGA, Life Member Active
· Super Senior Player of the Year – Fred Wood, PGA of Oceanside Golf Course
The 2015 President’s Award will be announced at the ceremony.
The 2015 Award recipients will be honored at the President’s Dinner on December 6, 2015 at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort. Below you will find short biographies of your 2015 Special Award honorees.
Mark Wilson, PGA – Golf Professional of the Year
Mark Wilson was born and raised in Ventura, where he graduated Buena High School in 1978. He became the store manager at a Stop-N-Go during 1979-1980 and then a Maintenance Director at Brooks College from 1983-1988 while attending California State University, Long Beach. Mark graduated from CSULB with a BSEE in 1988 and then moved to Danbury, CT, where he worked as a paint contractor until 1996.
Mark has been at North Ranch Country Club since 1996 and is currently the director of golf. He received his PGA membership in 2000 and has been a proud SCPGA Chapter and/or Section Board Member since 2006. On October 11, 2013 he married the love of his life, Jodi Foss. A few things Mark loves include wine, the SCPGA, First Tee, SCGA Youth on Course, Dodgers, Raiders, Nike, all branches of our military, law enforcement and his family, but not necessarily in that order!
Jim Vernon – Honorary Life Member
Jim Vernon, of Pasadena, is a past president of the USGA. He served as a member of the USGA Executive Committee through 2010 and served two years as vice president prior to heading up the Association in 2008 and 2009. During four of his first five years on the USGA Executive Committee, he chaired the Association’s Equipment Standards Committee.
He is the owner of Frank Vernon Diamond Brokers and Wholesale Jewelers, a family business that was started under his father’s name more than 50 years ago. Vernon received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1972, and followed it up with a law degree from the same institution in 1975.
Mr. Vernon, a member of Lakeside Golf Club, is also a past president of the board of directors of both the Southern California Golf Association and the California Golf Association. He currently sits on the SCGA Junior board of directors, the group that manages the SCGA’s Foundation, and is a past president of that group.
Brady Riggs, PGA – Teacher of the Year
Brady Riggs is a PGA member and the director of instruction at Woodley Lakes Golf Club in Van Nuys. Since 2007, he has been recognized by GOLF Magazine with the prestigious title as one of the Top 100 Teachers in America. For almost two decades, Brady’s work has been featured in over 200 articles on the pages of GOLF Magazine and Golf Tips Magazine where he serves as a Senior Instruction Editor and Golf Digest where he consistently appears on the Top Teachers by State.
Brady has become a premiere instructor in the greater Los Angeles area. His students include players of all levels, including members of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, European Tour, Canadian Tour, Solheim Cup Team, Walker Cup Team, Division 1 collegiate golfers, elite amateurs, high profile celebrities, professional athletes, and countless up and coming junior golfers. In 2010 and 2011, Brady’s student, Danielle Kang, won back to back US Amateur titles and climbed to #1 in the World Rankings. In 2014, his student, Brandon Hagy, completed his third straight year as an All-American at Cal Berkeley where he won the prestigious Byron Nelson Award.
Brady serves on the SCPGA Section Teaching Committee and is a PGA Adjunct Faculty Member for Teaching in the PGM program. He has been a presenter and panelist at numerous SCPGA Teaching Summits, Top 100 Retreats, the Athlete’s Nation Teaching Combine and Open Forum I and II during the PGA show in Orlando. When he isn’t teaching golf, Brady is the Varsity Head Coach for the John Burroughs High School Girls Soccer Program.
Robin Shelton, PGA – Bill Strausbaugh Award
Robin Shelton is the Co-Chairman of the Education Committee of the SCPGA. He has created and implemented programs such as “The Launchpad,” “Catalyst,” and leadership summits to improve the SCPGA education programs. Shelton began his golf career as a sixteen-year-old, cleaning golf carts. He has worked through almost all components of the golf business. Shelton has completed all seven competencies in the Certified Professional Program, received an advanced certification from the Golfing Machine, obtained his Masters degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University, and also his PGA Master Professional certification in 2011. Shelton has been awarded the Golf Professional of the Year for the Metropolitan Chapter in 2010. This will be his second award from the section. He continues to inspire fellow golf professionals by leading by example and promoting an ideal that “if better is possible, good is not enough.”
Billy McKinney, PGA – Horton Smith Award
Billy Ray McKinney has been a PGA member since 1993 and is honored to be the recipient of the 2015 Horton Smith Award. As the current Chairman of the SCPGA Teaching Committee, an avid golf nut, and motor learning enthusiast, Bill strives to stay informed about industry disruptive methodologies and ideas about how teachers can best be of service to their students. One of his many objectives is to give back to the game and the culture of golf professionals who have done so much for him in his life.
Over the past five years, Bill has been very active in both writing articles for various PGA publications and presenting at three Teaching Summits, three Golf Industry Business Summits, Cracker Barrel Meetings, and just about anywhere else they are willing to listen to him share the ideas that inspire him as a teacher. A Southern California native, he applies his craft as a teaching professional at both Shady Canyon Country Club and Marbella Country Club. Though he specializes in “pre-elite” players, he leaves no stone un-turned for each and every one of his students of all levels. Bill had a mildly successful playing career, an Orange County Junior Champion, a Junior Los Angeles Open Champion, third in CIF Individuals, a four-year scholarship athlete at UC Santa Barbara, a few SCPGA Metropolitan Chapter victories, and played one magical week on the Tour as a qualifier for the 1995 AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach (where he realized he would stick to his calling as a teaching professional).
He is extremely grateful to the giants on whose shoulders he stands, the committee, the section staff who make the education events run so seamlessly, his many golf buddies, his family who have supported him in his calling, and most of all, to his recent wife (his first and only), Tara, who is carrying the next golf nut named McKinney.
Chris Eikenberg, PGA – Assistant Professional of the Year
Chris Eikenberg, a PGA member since 2009, began working in the golf industry at the age of 15 and has since turned his passion into his career. Chris moved to the desert in the fall of 2010 to work at PGA WEST Private and has not left Southern California since. Before moving to the desert, Chris worked for some of the top clubs in his home state of Texas including Houston Country Club, Sugar Creek Country Club, and Westwood Golf Club. Chris is a graduate of Lindenwood University where he was a four-year letter winner for the Lion’s golf team and graduated with a degree in Business Management. Chris has a deep passion for golf and has an extensive knowledge of teaching, management, and tournament operations. Chris is also very active in the PGA of America and currently is on the Board of Directors for the SCPGA’s Desert Chapter and also competes in many SCPGA and professional events. Chris was the winner of the 2015 SCPGA Desert Chapter Assistants Championship as well as the 2015 Battle in the Desert. In 2013 Chris was named the SCPGA Desert Chapter Assistant Professional of the Year. In his spare time Chris enjoys music, sports and spending time with friends and family.
Holly Kennedy, PGA – Player Development Award
Holly Kennedy is a graduate and former Women’s Golf team member from UCLA, and a 15-year PGA member. She spent the first 16 years of her career at Singing Hills/Sycuan Resort as a golf professional, instructor, and tournament director, before starting Kennedy Golf in 2010. Her mission with Kennedy Golf is to foster growth of the game by assisting Southern California golf courses to increase the number of golf groups who visit their facilities, and to be a resource of services and assistance for all types of tournament groups, with a focus on non-profit and charity groups. In December of 2014, she fulfilled a career dream by becoming a owner/operator of the 18-hole executive course, Emerald Isle Golf Course, in Oceanside. Holly is the current President of San Diego Junior Golf Association and served on the San Diego Chapter Board of Directors as the Junior Golf Chair for six years, as well as the SCPGA’s Junior Golf Advisory Committee, the Women’s Committee, the Tournament Committee and the Advisory Committee. She has been recognized with numerous awards from the San Diego and Southern California PGA including Assistant Professional of the Year, Junior Golf Leader, the Bill Strausbaugh, and the President’s Award.
Randy Chang, PGA – Youth Player Development Award
Randy Chang is a PGA member and founder of the Aloha Academy of Golf in Hawaii, Randy Chang Golf Schools in Southern California and Tiny Tees Golf. He currently owns and manages the Journey Golf Academy at Pechanga, the Aloha Academy of Golf at Talega Golf Club, and Back Bay Golf Academy in Newport Beach and is involved with the Tiny Tees programs at Black Gold Golf Club, Monarch Beach Golf Links, Big Canyon Country Club, and Rancho Carlsbad Golf Club. With over 35 years of professional golf experience, he has been recognized by the PGA and golf industry with instructional awards such as: 2002 Aloha Section PGA Teacher of the Year, 2003-2004 Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Aloha Section, 2004 Nationally Recognized Teacher by Golf Digest, 2005 Golf Magazine Top Teachers in Southern California, 2009 SCPGA Metropolitan Teacher of the Year, 2010 SCPGA Section Teacher of the Year and 2014 Golf Tips Magazine National Top 30 Instructor.
Randy was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, graduating from the University of Portland with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Business Management & Philosophy. He played for his college golf team on scholarship for three years. After college, he turned professional and played on various mini tours in Southern California and Canada. Randy has worked within the golfing industry as a Head Professional, Director of Golf, General Manager, and Teaching Professional/Custom clubfitter. His knowledge of the golf swing and his flexible style of teaching, compliment each student’s specific goals and physical abilities. Randy’s approach to instruction is to S.U.R.F; Simplicity, Understanding, Retention, and most important, FUN. He believes that today’s technology and training techniques help to speed up the learning process for the student, which makes it more enjoyable and easier to comprehend.
Don Gatch, PGA – Clubfitter of the Year
Don Gatch is currently a co-owner of Emerald Isle Golf Course in Oceanside. Don has extensive knowledge and experience in 14 clubfitting systems and has conducted thousands of custom clubfittings for his students and clients since 1992. Don always stresses the importance of proper equipment for golfers of all levels, and believes that proper equipment leads to increased practice, play, and thus increased rounds and revenue for the industry. Clubfitting is a major component in Don’s instructional programs. Don was recognized as the 2014 San Diego Chapter Clubfitter of the Year, and currently serves as a Mentor in Instruction and Clubfitting for the SCPGA.
John Kulow, PGA – Merchandiser of the Year, Public
John Kulow has loved the game of golf ever since his father introduced him at the age of nine. He enjoyed competing in the SCPGA Junior Tour events here in Southern California. Kulow attended Bishop Amat High School and played on the golf team. He finished second in league his senior year, solidifying his desire to make a career in the golf business. His aspiration was to become a Golf Professional and manage golf properties. Kulow was accepted at New Mexico State University and enrolled in the Professional Golf Management Program. He graduated from NMSU in 1998 and landed an assistant professional position at South Hills Country Club, where he worked for three years. After completing Level 1 and 2 of the GPTP, John moved to Ocean Trails Golf Club in Palos Verdes and obtained his PGA Membership in 2001. John then went to work for ClubCorp at Canyon Crest Country Club in Riverside where he worked for three years before moving to San Gabriel Country Club where he worked for another two years. In 2006, Kulow became the head golf professional at Candlewood Country Club and remained there until the fall of 2011. In 2012, he joined the American Golf Corporation family as the general manager of Scholl Canyon Golf Club in Glendale, where they were able capitalize on an merchandising opportunity and game plan that resulted in a truly phenomenal year of sales revenue, turn rate and profitability. He then moved to La Mirada Golf Course to be the general manager in March of this year. John lives in San Dimas with his wife, Allison and their three children, Johnny age eight, Jackson, age two and Jaeden age one.
Anthony Holder, PGA – Merchandiser of the Year, Resort
Anthony was born and raised in a small town just outside Dallas, TX. He comes from a long family line of golf professionals, and spent most of his childhood days working under the tutelage of this father in Texas; who was a golf professional. Anthony then continued his golf career in Southern Utah where he met his wife to be. The Holder’s moved to Palm Springs area in 2005. During Anthony’s tenure in the area, he has been working at high volume 36-hole facilities such as: Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort, Indian Wells Golf Resort and PGA West. Anthony is extremely passionate about leading a team, spending time with his family and the Dallas Cowboys.
Mike Goodcase, PGA – Merchandiser of the Year, Private
Mike has been a Southern Californian his whole life. He grew up in La Habra Heights, located on the border of Los Angeles and Orange County. He went to the UC Irvine where he graduated with a degree in Economics in 1991. He played four years of baseball at UCI. His career in the golf business began as a banquet server for Mountain Meadows Golf Course in Pomona. His interest in golf grew quickly, and soon he was enrolled in the Professional Golf Management Program. After five years in the public sector, Mike received his first assistant golf professional position in the private sector at Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights. He was there for five and a half years before getting the position of head golf professional at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale. He obtained his PGA membership in June of 2002. Mike is starting his 11th year as the Head Golf Professional at Birnam Wood Golf Club.
On a personal note, Mike has been married to a beautiful woman, Linda Blanco Goodcase, for 20 years. He is the father to three wonderful children: Samantha (14), James (11), and Jeremy (9). Currently, they reside in Camarillo.
Michael Block, PGA – Player of the Year
Michael Block is the head golf professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club and has been for the past 11 years. He is married to his wife, Val and they have two sons. Michael has made the cut in four of eight PGA TOUR events in the past two years and has played in two major championships, the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club and the PGA Championship at Valhala. He has also won 12 SCPGA section tournaments in the past three years.
Michael has earned three points while representing the United States in the 2015 PGA Cup, won the 2014 PGA Club Professional National Championship and received the SCPGA Player of the Year Award for the past three years.
Kenny Pigman, PGA – AAA Player of the Year
Kenny Pigman grew up in Southern California near Goose Creek Golf Club. He attended the California State University of San Bernardino and received a BA in Marketing. In early 2012, he started the PGA program and June of this year received his PGA membership. “What an honor it is to receive player of the year for the third straight year. I want to thank everyone in the PGA AAA for the participation and the life long friends I have been involved with.” – Kenny Pigman
Julie Wells, PGA – Women’s Player of the Year
Julie was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. As the daughter of a PGA member, she grew up on a golf course and found herself wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps. At the early age of six, she competed in her first competitive event against players twice her age and found success, returning home with her first winners trophy.
Julie had both decorated junior and collegiate careers claiming the 3A High School State Championship three times and the Girls State Junior Championship twice. She earned a Full-Athletic Scholarship to the University of Idaho where she became the Big West Player of the Year in 2001, and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Advertising. Following graduation, she turned professional and joined the Duramed Future’s Tour (now known as the Symetra Tour).
Over the next ten years, Julie would battle ‘life on the road’ as a mini tour player competing on the Duramed Futures Tour as well as other various mini tours. In 2006, she was honored to be chosen as a contestant on The Golf Channel’s hit series, ‘The Big Break V: Hawaii’, where she became a semi-finalist, taking third place.
After leaving the tour in 2010, Julie moved to Southern California and began her career in the PGA, earning her PGA Membership in November of 2014. Serving as an assistant golf professional and later promoted to the director of instruction at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, she found success amongst her peers becoming the first female to compete on the Southern California PGA’s AAA Cup Team. She would also earn titles including 2013 Desert Chapter Assistant Champion as well as the 2013 SCPGA Women’s Player of the Year. Most recently Julie established her own golf school, Julie Wells Golf, teaching privately as well as mentoring high school golf teams.
Jackie Kazarian – Women’s Apprentice Player of the Year
Jackie has been playing golf for over 20 years. She is accomplished at the junior, collegiate and professional levels. As the captain of her varsity golf team at San Diego State University, she traveled the United States and competed against top players around the nation. Since 2012, she has toured professionally on the Symetra- Road to the LPGA, Cactus, and Canadian Women’s Tours and is a two-time winner on the Grasshopper Tour.
In 2013, she joined the PGA of America as an apprentice and is currently working on becoming a PGA member. Her teaching philosophy is simple: focus on the fundamentals while working with your natural abilities in order to create a repeatable and confident golf swing. She believes that the most efficient way to lower your handicap is learning how to turn 14 clubs into 30+. Course management and creativity with shot making are a few of her many specialties. As a teacher, her primary objective is to make golf an even more enjoyable experience. Her experience working with top teaching professionals, combined with her numerous years of playing competitively, has made her an invaluable asset to the golf world. She works with both adults and juniors and truly enjoys sharing her passion for the game.
Chris Starkjohann, PGA – Senior Player of the Year
Chris has been a PGA Member since 1983 and now a Quarter Century Member. He played 12 years on the Nationwide Tour and in numerous PGA TOUR “majors” and events. Starkjohann is the champion of the Nationwide St. Louis Classic (1998) and San Diego County Open (2002).
In the Southern California PGA Section alone, Chris has achieved the following awards: Player of the Year (eight times), Senior Player of the Year (three times), Senior Stroke Play Champion (four times), Stroke Play Champion (four times), and PGA San Diego Chapter Player of the Year (seven times). At a national level, Starkjohann was PGA National Senior Player of the Year three times, including 2009 and a member of the PGA Cup Team in 2007. Starkjohann holds numerous course records throughout Southern California. In addition to all his playing accomplishments, Chris also has over 35 years’ teaching experience.
Fred Wood, PGA – Super Senior Player of the Year
Fred has been a member of the PGA since 1987. His teaching career started over 30 years ago. Fred and his wife, Jeanne reside in Oceanside, where they raised their two sons, Ryan and Kyle. He has been working as the head golf professional at Oceanside Golf Course for 27 years. His main interest is his family, but takes great pride in meeting people of all ages and trying to improve their golf game. In his spare time, he loves to play golf, garden, hike, and watch sporting events live or on television. Golf has been wonderful to him over the years, and therefore he hopes to give back by motivating others to play the game and love it as much as he does!